Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!
Call me crazy, but this morning I woke up excited to live. Despite having had slept for less than six hours in a foreign bed (though I am used to the feel of a dorm room bed and the mattress at the All Saints rectory), I woke up anticipating and longing for the breaths I breathe. Why?
Well, I think one of the events I am really anticipating is getting together tonight with my running partner from freshmen year in college. Her and I took many runs while I attended UW-Madison, runs that found us talking about so many wonderful and invigorating things, runs that seemed to always lift me up a little. I rest in the longing to be reunited with her and to feel the wind rush by us as she shares with me her experience of Italy, France and Switzerland, the places she has spent nearly the last two months. I look forward to telling her more about my visit to El Salvador, my upcoming trip to France, and my summer thus far.
Though we can never try and over-anticipate the rewards of being with a person we really care about, we can realize that time spent with that person is going to be time worth spending and time worth cherishing. I cherished our runs and I pray that tonight my Spirit is reinvigorated by being in contact with her vivacious and warming Spirit.
I am in Madison for these few days taking a class at Edgewood College taught by a theologian named James Alison. This is what has brought me back to the city I first went off to for college. Alison's talks have been truly unique and greatly mind blowing. In a nutshell, he is turning around some of our preconceived notions of how a monotheistic God came to be. Instead of there being a singular revelation, and that revelation taking form in a text we now call the Bible, Alison shows that the concept of monotheism has been much more a discovery and process that last for centuries and really, when we think about it, continues to this very day. In some ways, looking at monotheism as an ongoing discovery may seem a bit frustrating in that it refutes the notion that we have all the answers from our Creator. However, stepping back to ponder and maybe accept such a claim can allow us to view the Hebrew discovery of a monotheistic God as, as Alison puts it, a freeing experience. The Hebrew God of freedom allows us to look at the world as if every event that happens to us and those around us is an insight into the complexities of this world. If we allow ourselves the effort to see everything and everyone as something new and exciting, then the world is full of light, not darkness. Our objective, if we are people who want to love and spread love, is to be a beacon of light and hope. This is not easy, but it is freeing. As James Alison puts it, we rely on a deeper "Other other" to sustain us and to give us an identity, as opposed to the more superficial "social-other" that dominates so much of our life. This is not to say it is wrong to want to appear to be a particular person in front of other people, the "social others." On the contrary, we are primarily social beings with needs and desire for community, relationships and love. The "Other-other," or God, should rest at a deeper level within our heart and mind, so that we may always stay connected to that force which has allowed us to take on aspects of the human person. This is the suggestion from Alison and his suggestion, which I find incredibly intriguing, is that we look at much of the teachings presented in the Bible as callings to associate ourselves most intimately with the "Other-other," while still being a social being. We want to desire abundance, Alison claims, desire the Other-other. This desire conjures up an image of a person wrapping her hands around as much of her life as she can, inhaling, and giving a large hug as she slowly exhales her talent and love onto the world surrounding her.
And so I digress.
peace and blessings friends!
your friend bob.